Toddler Fashion on a Budget

Move over Crewcuts and  Jack and Janie, there is no need for you in today’s toddler fashion world! Thanks to stores like Target and Old Navy I can find just as fashion forward and adorable clothes that you sell for more than half the cost! My little toddler fashionista Ruby loves clothes, especially dresses! Everyday getting dressed is her favorite time. Usually we end up getting dressed 3 or 4 different times in new outfits 🙂 While usually a child with a love for fashionable clothes comes at a hefty cost, we have found ways to avoid that cost! All of her clothes come from Target, Old Navy, The Children’s Place, Khol’s, Gap, and TJMAXX. She gets compliments everyday on how cute her outfits are and people ask where we get her clothes. Every time I respond with Old Navy or Target people are usually surprised. Attention everyone: Target and Old Navy have the cutest clothes for little ones and at an affordable price point!!

Sweater Dress: Target $19 Leggings: Old Navy $4 Boots: Old Navy $15

One of the cost struggles of having a child is the amount of money spent on clothes for them, because they are constantly growing. If you don’t have a sibling or family member close in age, hand-me-downs are out of the question. Then comes the struggle every season to make sure their clothes fit and if not get new ones. Instead of dreading going shopping for your kiddo because you think cheap clothes equate with ugly and low quality, think again. The majority of Ruby’s closet consists of clothes from the stores listed above. Every piece lasts through the whole season and we always find fashion forward pieces.

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Vest: Target $15 Jeggings: Target $7 Tunic: Target $15 Boots: Target $13

We rarely ever buy anything when it is full price. Every store below always has a sale. These are our shopping tips for each store listed below.

Our favorite stores:

Target: Use cartwheel! They usually feature brands, such as Cherokee or Carter, each week for a certain percentage off. Buy your clothes then. Stock up. It may feel like you are spending so much one time, but in the long run you will be saving money. Also take advantage of their text message sales. The day we got the vest, tunic, leggings, and boots, they were having a sale where if you texted a number you would get a coupon for $10 off every $25 spent. That will save you so much! Especially when buying winter clothes, because those are always more expensive. The main point here is stock up when these sales are on because in the end you will spend less money overall. As always check the sale racks too. You can usually find some good stuff there as well.

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Shirt: Old Navy $12 Shorts: Target $5 Sandals: Target: $15

Old Navy: They always have on trend clothes there! If you are looking for nice dresses and coats, or basics like leggings you can always find those here. You can usually always find these items on sale as well. Recently all toddler and infant clothes have been 40% off. Ruby went on a shopping spree last week because she had grown out of all her 2T winter clothes
IMG_2125 and we needed some new ones. Getting 40% off sweaters, long sleeve dresses, shoes, and pants is AMAZING! She got multiple pairs of leggings for $4 each. Shirts, like this cute one in the picture, for $5, and the pink sparkle leggings for $4 as well. Her pink boots in the pictures on the top were $25 originally, but we bought them on sale and saved a bunch! Once again my main point here is stock up when the sales are on. We did the same thing this summer when buying new shorts and dresses. The savings add up over time.

The Children’s Place: Once again with this store always buy when on sale! We usually end up at the mall once a week (going to the play place there) and each time we’ve walked by in the last few weeks, they have been promoting 40% your entire purchase. These savings were on top of other sales going on in the store. All fleece jackets were on sale for $20 and then you got 40% on top of that, so the cheetah print, cozy jacket we got Ruby was only $12. Once again stock up and take advantages of these sales. We got her a Christmas tutu dress, leggings, jacket, and headband for $30.

Kohl’s: This store as well always had tons on sale. You have to be willing to dig through all of the clothes on the rack, but you can usually find some  good stuff. We got a lot of cute summer stuff back in the springtime when it was on sale.

Gap: I was hesitant to put this one on the list at first. Their clothing is more expensive, in general, than clothes from the other shops. I worked at Gap for a few months and what I realized is that something is always on sale in that store. One week it may be pants, the next t-shirts, and the next dresses. My tip for this store is only buy clothes from there if it is on sale. There is no need to spend $30 on a dress when it could be on sale the next week, or you can find one just as cute, for less, at another store. The one things I can attribute to clothes from Gap is that they can be higher quality fabric and materials then other stores.

All in all buying clothes for your toddler should not be something to be dreaded anymore. There are so many inexpensive places to buy cute clothes these days. Make sure to be vigilant of sales and stock up when you find a good one.

The Importance of Reading with Kids

Lazy days (like Sundays 😊) are the perfect days to cuddle up with your cutie pie and read books on books on books! There are so many benefits to reading with and to your little one. Books inspire kids to imagine and dream about things and places you’re reading about. The simple act of reading a book aloud to your child helps them develop in multiple way. It develops their memory skills, especially if at the end you ask them what their favorite part was. In relation to memory, it helps kids work on their attention and patience by having to sit still, for a prolonged period of time, and attend to the words and pictures. Lastly it helps in language development. When reading books kids are exposed to so many words and pronunciations. There are a million more benefits to reading, these are just a few. Given all these benefits make reading a part of your daily life with your kid! It’s easy and it’s fun. This goes for kids of all ages! It doesn’t matter if they are 1 or 12 or 50, reading is always beneficial.

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Ruby (the little girl I nanny) is 3 so she can’t read any words yet, but still loves when I read aloud to her. This is how me and Ruby have made it apart of our daily life. Every day when Ruby wakes up her nap, we lay in her bed and read 3 or 4 books. She can be a little grumpy and still sleepy when she wakes up, so this is my way of getting her past the “I’m still waking up phase” to the playful Ruby phase. She usually passively takes in the first couple books, but by the 4th book she is super engaged, asking questions, and talking about the pictures. She loves it.

Below are some books we recommend, places we recommend getting them at, and a fun art project! 

Some of our favorite books that we recommend you checking out are:

For the older audience (3 and older): 

Ellie by Mike Wu, a heartwarming story about how everyone is talented in their own unique way. Told with beautiful illustrations and adorable animals!

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Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann, a sweet story about a girl who loves pink and being herself no matter what. Perfect for any pink loving little kiddo. (we also suggest Aqualicious and Purplelicious)

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain, a personal favorite of mine from when I was a kid! With a wide range of stories about everything from becoming a big sister/brother to telling the truth to eating too much junk food, your kids will always come away from these books learning a good lesson.

For the younger audience (3 and under): 

Duck and Goose by Tad Hills, this is a series with multiple books covering many learning domains such as counting, empathy, holidays, colors, emotions, opposites, and many more. Each one is short and simple, but filled with tons of things for kids to learn. Plus they are the cutest little guys!

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield 51q3+u5cenL._SX473_BO1,204,203,200_
Martin, a eloquently written, beautiful book telling the story of something all parents will find meaningful. Every parent (and nanny 😊) wonders about their tiny humans will become one day.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, a quirky, cute story about a giraffe who wants to dance even though he isn’t exactly made to. It shows kids you can do whatever you put your mind to.

IMG_7628You can find all these books and more amazing ones at the LIBRARY! Ruby and I love the library. Our local libraries have fun places to cozy up and read, blocks to play with, and toys to imagine with. It is always a fun morning when we head to one of them. After Ruby got her first library card this summer we decided to make a special library book bag to store and carry all her library books in! Such a fun, easy, practical art project. Directions are below!

What you need: 

1 canvas bag (we found ours at Michael’s craft store for $3)

3D Fabric Paint in favorite colors (found at Michael’s)

Pencil

How to do: 

  1. Place some cardboard inside the bag to prevent the paint from going through to the other side.
  2. Use a pencil to sketch out your design. Draw lightly incase you want to erase and start again 🙂
  3. Gently squeeze the 3D fabric paint over the pencil lines.
  4. Let dry for at least 3 hours!! This is the hardest step for kids to obey. We did ours before nap time so there was no temptation.
  5. Use and enjoy your new personalized book bag! We take ours with overtime we go.

Since Ruby was a little to young to use the paint I had her color on the other side of the bag with fabric markers. This made her feel like she did some too. She also helped pick out the colors and decided which words were what color. If your child is old enough to use the fabric paint let them create their own unique design!

If you like to buy your books to keep them around enroll in IMG_7615Barnes and Noble’s Kids Club! It keeps track of how many books you buy and allows you to enjoy special perks! For every $100 you spend on kids book you get a rewards certificate to redeem in store. They have other fun promotions you can take part in. The store itself is always a fun place for kids to visit too. They have a Lego Duplo area to build for free and a fun storytelling area.

I hope this post encourages you to make reading an important part of you and your kiddos life! I leave you with this quote by a familiar friend

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How to have the best nanny/boss relationship possible!

Hi all happy Wednesday! This post is going to go a little differently than my other ones. It is designed to help BOTH nannies and parents/bosses figure out a way to have a good, healthy relationship. So please share this with any nannies you know or parents you know that have nannies!

I’ve seen a lot of posts on nanny forums recently about nannies having bad relationships with their bosses, nannies feeling used, or nannies feeling that their time is not valued. Given that I thought it might be a good time to send out some advice on how to prevent or make those things better. The key is COMMUNICATION. That is the basis for every good, healthy relationship and especially a relationship between a nanny and parent.

I have always been very communicative with my bosses. I think it helps make the job easier for me, and it helps reassure the parents that I know what I am doing and am confident. After reflecting on what I think has been the most helpful aspects of communication in my relationships with my bosses I came up with this list to share with you all! Nannies, I hope some of these ideas help you, or encourage you to have this conversation about good communication with your boss. Also, parents/bosses remember that healthy communication between a boss and their nanny is a two way street. Make sure you are open to communication and feedback from your nanny. Now let’s get at the little details!

Honesty is key from the get go. No relationship between a nanny and parent will work without honesty from both parties.

  • Nannies: Start being honest from your first meeting. Be honest about what you are willing and not willing to do as a nanny. If you feel strongly against doing maid type work, tell you boss that from day one. I know it may be a deal breaker for a job, but if you lie and say you are okay with doing the laundry and dishes, when you aren’t, down the line this could cause problems. Be honest about your schedule and flexibility. If you need to be done everyday at exactly what time the parents say they will be home, tell them that. Explain to them that you have to get your kids from school at 5:30 so you need to leave at 5, or that you have night class at 7, so you need to leave in time for that everyday. They should respect those commitments. Also be honest with them when it has been a crappy day at work. It may not feel good to tell them how rude or disrespectful their child was to you that day, but they should, and probably, want to hear that so they can talk to their child about that. I had a difficult child one summer and I had to tell the mom I couldn’t work for them any longer if he continued to treat me the way he did. It was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but that honesty with her prompted her to have a discussion with her child about respect. It ended up not working out in the end, but what I learned from that is even when it’s hard to be honest with the parents that is when you really need to be.
  • Parents: Start by being honest from your first discussion with the potential nanny. I know you may need someone right away so the tendency is to make you sound as likable as ever, but make sure everything is honest. If you know you need a nanny who is flexible because your job is demanding then say that. Do not mislead your potential nanny, because that will cause issues down the line. When it comes to your interview ask them everything you want that you think will help you make your decision. Also answer all of your potential nanny’s questions honestly. If she asks you if she will be expected to clean up the house, answer with exactly what you want her to do and see what she says. Make sure you tell your potential nanny everything you are going to expect of them from the start, and if you see yourself adding expectations in after you see how everything goes.

Contracts may help facilitate a way of communication. 

  • This is an especially important thing for full time nanny positions. I am not an expert on nanny contracts and am not going to act like I am one 🙂 This is a good article to take a look at when preparing your contract. It gives 20 helpful ideas of what the contract should cover. The one thing I do know though is to physically print the contract out and keep it with you. The nanny and the parent should both have a physical copy to able to refer to. And DO refer to it. If part of your contract is being broken by either party, bring that up to them along with showing them the contract again. This may seem super formal, but it is an effective way for both parties to feel protected and in control.

Have an open dialogue. 

  • Make sure you both feel comfortable talking to the other if things come up. Life is messy. Things happen out of our control, and that is okay. Nannies, if you need to take some time off because of personal reasons be upfront with your boss. Explain as much as you feel you need to them, and also be open to there response. Compromise is key here. If you are requesting something outside of the realm of the contract you have to be willing to compromise. The same goes for parent/bosses, compromising sometimes is necessary. If you need to cut their hours for a few weeks for whatever reason, tell them right away. Hear what they think about that and go from there.

Some small things that may help make communication easier for all… 

  • Monthly Meetings 
    • These can be to asses how things are going for both parties. Nannies you can say what is working well and what isn’t, and parents you can do the same.
    • As you get more comfortable with each other and gain more of routine maybe make them bimonthly or every 6 months.
  • Don’t Let Little Annoyances Pile Up
    • This is true for both nannies and parents. If something is bothering you about some aspect tell the other person before it becomes something bigger than it needs to.
  • Nanny Notes!
    • I know there are a lot of templates for these out there but I created a new one for all of you. I tried to make it user friendly and printer ink friendly (ink can add up in cost big time!)
    • Nannies try filling these out each day to keep the parent informed. I have found that parents love them.
    • Parents offer to print them out for the nanny (help them save money) and then you can stay in the loop.
    • Nanny note link!

My last piece of advice: If all else fails and there is no way to achieve good communication with your nanny or your boss, quit. It sounds harsh, but don’t stay in an environment that isn’t good for you. It will only get worse for you and they family you are with.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide, 2015